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Jim's Top 12 TV Shows of 2017

 

Here I am back again, this time with my Top 12 TV shows of last year. Since joining the Nothing's On Podcast I have been watching way more television than the average viewer, although stil not nearly as much as my cohosts Donny and Darrell. Join us every week for TV and movie news, insight, and of course our award-winning listener emails at the Taylor Network of Podcasts. you'll be glad you did! Again this is my list and only based on my taste and what I have actually seen, which is why some big notable series (Twin Peaks, Handmaid's Tale, etc.) are absent. Your mileage may vary.

 

Honorable mentions: Shot in the Dark is an incredible documentary series about the free-lance camerapeople who chase the news in Los Angeles hoping to get the best footage to sell to local news outlets, and it is fascinating. Riverdale is a show I should've hated but the Twin Peaks-like take on the Archie comics universe as been way better than it had any right to be and I am hooked. The Americans continues to be the best show on TV no one is watching. I loved every minute of GLOW, about the first mainstream women's wrestling show. The Flash got back some of it's mojo after a disappointing last season.Samurai Jack returned this year in glorious form with Genndy Tartakovsky finishing the epic he began years ago, and while I am not at the fanatic level of love some people have for the show, Rick and Morty is a lot of fun. On YouTube, Best of the Worst continues to be an incredibly entertaining look at the absolute lowest common denominator of film and Jimquisition is an excellent weekly show led by the PT Barnum of videogames journalism (although he himself would balk at that term) raconteur Jim Sterling.

 

And now on to the Dirty Dozen!
 
 
12) Brooklyn 99- The funniest ensemble comedy on TV, and worth being on this list not just for how funny it is, but how consistently funny it is from week to week. Even the weakest episodes of Brooklyn 99 are streets ahead of 90% of the comedies on TV and who knew other than probably the man himself that Andre Braugher was this much of a comedic talent? I expect Terry Crews, Chelsea Peretti and Andy Samberg to bring the funny but Braugher is the real MVP of the show. The only show I can think to compare it to would be Barney Miller, and I consider that high praise.
 
11) The Good Place- After last season's game-changing finale (cribbed from one of my favorite Twilght Zone episodes) this show has gone from merely witty and amusing to smart, well-thought out and hilarious with twists that actually surprise and make sense, sharp writing and a rock-solid cast led by Ted Danson and Kristen Bell. 
 
10) Mindhunter- I am biased on this series as it was filmed here in Pittsburgh and I had a lot of friends who worked on the production, but this look into the dawn of criminal profiling not only deals with the historical context well, it also makes us care about the FBI agents at the core of the story and how the effects of dealing with the most monstrous of humans (they coin the phrase "serial killer" in the show) can ripple into their own lives. A slow burn but well worth the trip.
 
9) Happy?- There are so few shows I can actually say are astounding, jaw-dropping and darkly comic in the way Happy? is. From the warped mind of comics scribe Grant Morrison, this Syfy series doesn't water down the insanity one bit, and Christopher Meloni once again shows us why he is one of the most underrated actors working today by straddling the line of brutal violence and pitch-black humor that his character in this showwalks. Add the genius of Patton Oswalt and the combination is irresistable. Not for everyone but an incredible ride for those who choose to take it.
 
8) Black Mirror- Speaking of shows that aren't for everyone but are an incredible ride, Black Mirror continues to be one of the most horrifying, hardest hitting and deeply prescient shows on TV. Charlie Brooker takes the Twilight Zone formula of socially relevant sci-fi and feeds it a steady diet of raw meat and crystal meth until it mutates into something far beyond what Serling had in mind. Black Mirror is scary, thoughtful, and terrifying in a plausible way that makes it even more unsettling, so much so that even though I love it I can't really binge it as it's usually too much to process more than one episode at a time.
 
7) Preacher- After a first season of spinning it's wheels Preacher came out with both fists swinging this year, adhering closer to what comics fans loved about the source material while expanding and embellishing on the world of Jesse Custer and friends as they quite literally search for God. Steeped in myth without being slavish in it's adaptation, Preacher went from being a muscle car idling in a garage to a supercharged road race with a maniac at the steering wheel.
 
6) Blackish-The smartest comedy on network TV, so much so that I am constantly surprised at the honesty and matter-of-fact nature with which they deal with issues while still being funny. And as strong as the main cast is, Deon Cole, Jenifer Lewis and Lawrence Fishburne in their supporting roles really make this show stand out..
 
5) Mystery Science Thater 3000: The Return- The original MST3K is hands down my favorite TV show of all time. I have seen every episode multiple times and if I were forced to only watch one show for the rest of my life I would choose it without a moment's hesitation. When I heard about the Netflix revival, I was cautiously optimistic as there were so many ways in which it could've gone wrong. Luckily, the new season of MST was well worth the wait for us faithful by involving not only many of the writers and creators from the original series but also bringing in some of the funniest comedic minds of today who had grown up as fans of the show. The resultant show is as funny in its own weird way as when it began without merely copying to what had come before. 
 
4) Stranger Things- Yes I know I am in the prime 80s nostalgia demo that this show is appealing to, but the story and the characters continue to fascinate me and this season expands on everything I loved about the first season. The progressions since the first season made total sense, the elevation of the stakes add to the drama rather than just seeming like another "Big Bad" to be overcome and the way the story opens up makes me anticipate the next season even more. What more could you ask for? And can we all agree on the overall excellence of David Harbour?
 
3) Mr. Robot- I find Mr. Robot fascinating. I sincerely never know what to expect from episode to episode and its packed with enough great ideas and characters to fill a dozen ordinary shows, but  this is far from an ordinary show. I think a lot of people fell off of this series because unlike a lot of other dramas on TV, Mr. Robot demands that you pay close attention to it to follow every twist and turn but that faithfulness is rewarded in so many ways for those of us who are truly along for the ride. As great as Rami Malek is as Elliot, the supporting cast shines just as brightly, including Christian Slater in one of the best acting turns of his career, the always excellent BD Wong and Carly Chaikin who spent much more time in the spotlight this season than any previous.
 
2) American Gods- American Gods is a dream come true for me; an adaptation of one of my favorite Neil Gaiman novels brilliantly executed and realized with an all-star cast. Ricky Whittle as Spyder is my performance of the year as he was able throughout the series to nail the mix of skepticism, belief and world-weariness of the character. The rest of the cast is equally amazing with Ian McShane, Gillian Anderson, Orlando Jones and Peter Stormare all hitting it out of the metaphorical park. And Crispin Glover stole every scene he was in as the transcendently creepy Mr. World. 
 
1) Game of Thrones- What can I say? I am just as in love with this show as everyone else seems to be and after spending this much time in this world with these characters I am as incredibly primed to see the final season as I am sad to see it end. A show of this size and scale and depth is close to a once-in-a-lifetime event and we may never see it's like again.
 
Feel free to disagree by sending your top 12 or top ten or whatever(I am not the list police, do what you feel) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we will read your picks on an upcoming episode!

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